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WALK, THEY SAID: After my flight from Newark to Miami, I picked up my luggage and set off for the rental-car center, using elevators, ...

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Trump may or may not be going insane, but he is certainly driving most of us crazy

President Trump in an undated and uncredited photo that appeared on websites this past summer.




That was the headline on a New York Daily News editorial that declared:

"The President of the United States is profoundly unstable. He is mad. He is, by any honest layman's definition, mentally unwell and viciously lashing out.

"Trump is broadcasting discredited [Muslim] hate videos even as he now tells multiple people in his inner circle that the real, verified 'Access Hollywood' video in which he boasted of grabbing women 'by the pussy' -- words for which he has already publicly apologized -- was falsified."

The News went on to suggest "some might say we are just suffering through the umpteenth canny, calculated presidential eruption designed to distract the nation from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, or perhaps from unpopular [tax] legislation working its way through Congress."

"Quite possible, The News editorial board said. "But ... the sheer strangeness of Trump's behavior leads us to conclude we are witnessing signs of mania."


This morning, Brian Lehrer on WNYC-FM, New York and New Jersey Public Radio, said following the news really can drive you a little crazy before enumerating all of the times President Trump has launched assaults on the truth recently.

"Maybe it's Trump who is going insane," Lehrer said.

The Record

In a front-page story below the fold today, The Record of Woodland Park, my local daily newspaper, reported that Trump's anti-Muslim tweets "spark outrage" (1A).

But the editors gave far more space on Page 1 to the firing of Matt Lauer, co-host of the "Today" show, assigning the story to Staff Writer Jim Beckerman, one of the veterans who survived widespread layoffs at the Gannett-owned daily.

"Oh, Matt,
you too?"

The coy headline was bad enough, but Beckerman also treats Lauer kindly, calling the accused sex abuser "the lovable co-host of 'Today'" ... with a "good-guy persona" (1A).

Readers will have to search for a story from Bloomberg, which reports Lauer's poor performance as a journalist during "Today" interviews of Hillary Clinton and Trump on the 2016 presidential campaign trail:

"...Lauer  was criticized for spending much of his time with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton focused on her use of a private email service, while failing to push Trump as hard on other topics" (6A).

Reader speaks out

You can find "reviews" of The Record's print edition on NorthJersey.com's Facebook page.

Reader Michael Esposito said:

"Please Gannett Publishing ... I beg of you ... please put this once-great newspaper you've destroyed out of its misery. It's become an embarrassment in the world of journalism. On the plus side, it now takes me so little time to read what's left of the paper that it frees me up to do other things. You should be ashamed of yourselves, but that would involve having a conscience. You possess none.
"Concerning the Money and Markets Report that would appear every Sunday ... where did it go? First, it was removed from the delivered paper and only appeared in the digital edition. Now it's gone from there as well. Is there a weekly vote or something among you greed heads as to what part of the paper you'll eliminate next ? Eventually this once-legendary newspaper will be reduced to the size of a pamphlet. Shameful, but apparently you don't care."

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Biggest paper of the year from The Record lands with the thud of an enormous turd

LOCK THEM UP! From the Dump Trump Daily Facebook page, one of several that excoriate President Trump and call for his impeachment.



The story of what has happened to The Record in the past decade could be called, "The Incredible Shrinking Newshole."

Even before my local daily newspaper was sold to Gannett in July 2016, the amount of space devoted to news -- including reports from the 90 or so towns in the circulation area -- shrank dramatically.

For example, four or five years ago, then-Publisher Stephen A. Borg decided saving money on newsprint was more important than providing a comprehensive local news report.

He ordered the local-news section for Bergen County and a second one for Passaic and Morris counties to be combined, which explains why Hackensack readers see more Paterson news than stories from their own city.

Gannett boast

Starting last Monday, a banner across the top of the front page promised "OUR BIGGEST PAPER OF THE YEAR" on Thanksgiving.

It was anything but -- unless you counted numerous advertising inserts.

I don't read the Sports section, and wasn't going to join the Black Friday madness at the malls.

So I was left with four sections with only 40 pages of news and ads when I finally got around to looking at the Thursday paper on Friday.

Long drive

In Friday's Better Living section, the editors recommended shopping center restaurants, including Legal Sea Foods and California Pizza Kitchen in the far-off Mall at Short Hills.

Those same restaurants operate at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, in the heart of the circulation area, but there was no mention of that.

Store shooting?

The Record publishes photos from the newspaper's archives in a feature called "Vintage New Jersey."

On the front of last Monday's Better Living section, photos of Bergen housewives shopping in supermarkets in the 1970s appeared innocent enough.

But on 3BL a caption on one of the photos said:

"1977: A&P shooting scene on Lincoln Avenue Glen Rock."

What shooting? And was this an appropriate choice for the photo archives feature?

Saturday, November 25, 2017

For 2018, ho-hum Subaru is set to unveil revolutionary powertrain for one vehicle

Not all of the construction workers in Manhattan are building or renovating. On the way to a lunch sponsored by Subaru of America Inc. on Tuesday, I saw this crew putting up a scaffold on West 41 Street in midtown Manhattan.
As seen from West 51st Street, the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center was still shrouded in scaffolding. 



As I digested a bountiful lunch with wine and watched a long slideshow on Subaru's first 50 years in America, I had plenty of time to wonder why I had never owned one of the sensible Japanese cars.

I couldn't put my finger on it. My first car from Japan was an anemic 1986 Toyota hatchback, the first front-wheel-drive Celica.

But in 1993 or so, I replaced that with a hard-to-find all-wheel-drive Celica, a 1988 All-Trac Turbo, with 190 horsepower from a 4-cylinder engine.

Toyota campaigned heavily modified All-Trac Turbos, and eventually won driver and manufacturer titles in the World Rally Championship in Europe.

Then and now, Subaru mostly sells boring but sturdy all-wheel-drive sedans, station wagons and other utility vehicles with raised suspensions.

By the time the company brought performance cars to the U.S., I had moved on to the first of four Toyota Prius gas-electric hybrids, and the all-electric Tesla Model S I drive now.

Free lunch

But here I was in Manhattan at a meeting of the International Motor Press Association, the country's oldest organization of automotive journalists and public relations professionals.

And Subaru paid for me and about 40 others to enjoy cocktails and a buffet lunch of sea bass, chicken, pasta, steamed vegetables and salads before starting the slideshow on the American subsidiary's 50th anniversary in 2018.

The Japanese company did have news for auto writers like me who wondered why there are no hybrids in its American lineup.

Subaru will market a plug-in gas-electric hybrid at the end of next year, and an all-electric, zero-emissions vehicle in 2021.

Jeff Walters, senior vice president of sales, wouldn't name the plug-in vehicle.

But he said the company will show the Ascent at the Los Angeles Auto Show in December, calling it the biggest Subaru ever with three row of seats and EyeSight driver-assist technology.  

Jeff Walters, senior vice president of sales at Subaru of America in Cherry Hill, N.J., said the company sold a gas-electric hybrid vehicle for a few years. Walters also said the company is building a new headquarters in Camden.
Malcolm Bricklin, 78, who founded Subaru of America in 1968, also attended the IMPA lunch meeting in Manhattan on Tuesday. He built and sold the Bricklin SV-1, a sports car with gull-wing doors, from 1974-76, selling less than 3,000. In 1986, he imported the Yugo hatchback.
IMPA members on the buffet line.
IMPA meetings are held at the Women's National Republican Club on West 51st Street, near Fifth Avenue, in midtown Manhattan.
On the way to lunch, I stopped to look over a pedestrian mall at Broadway and West 41st Street with holiday stores and food concessions, above and below.
I'll wait for the 73% off sale (!) at this jewelry store on Sixth Avenue.
People lined up to buy tickets to the Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.
On the walk back to the midtown Port Authority Bus Terminal, I saw the Empire State Building reflecting the sun.
At the bus terminal, the large Hudson News concession was moved from the center of the main concourse into the space where bus tickets once were sold.
NJ Transit's round-trip bus fare for seniors from Hackensack, N.J., to midtown Manhattan is one of the best deals in transit.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Update: On Thanksgiving, our huge meals weren't always well-planned or executed

For our Thanksgiving meal today, I prepared a luxurious salad of Red King Crab with diced celery, onion and sweet pepper, all dressed in Dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice and cumin, above. I also served an egg-white Frittata with salted codfish, slices of tomato and pre-boiled sweet potato, and a bit of pesto, below.

UPDATE: I've added more Thanksgiving day food photos to this post. 



Our past Thanksgivings have always been a celebration of family and how fortunate we are, but they haven't always been well-planned or executed:

In 2014, a turkey free Thanksgiving

In 2013, I ate the whole thing

In 2011, soft-tofu stew instead of turkey

In 2016, I was bitten by the food-shopping bug

I started the frittata on the stove, pouring 4 cups of egg whites, salted codfish, grated cheese and seasonings into a pre-heated 10-inch non-stick pan with olive oil. After adding the sweet potato and tomato slices and allowing the crust to set, I moved the pan into the oven, where the frittata spent about 20 minutes under the broiler. I added Costco Wholesale's Basil Pesto as the frittata cooled on the counter.
I finished my meal with an organic spring mix salad with Campari Tomatoes as our guests and my wife and mother-in law loaded their plates with roast turkey, ham, curry goat, and rice and peas.
I also had a small plate of garlic mashed sweet potatoes with extra virgin olive oil and a dozen seasonings, including curry powder, cinnamon, cumin, red-pepper flakes and a little maple syrup.
We toasted our good fortune with Kirkland Signature Prosecco, a sparkling white wine from Italy. I also had a couple of glasses of Kirkland Signature Cote du Rhone Villages, a red wine from France. Both were from the Costco Wholesale warehouse in Wayne.

The Bottom Line

Our biggest expense was the Red King Crab Legs and Claws from Costco Wholesale in Teterboro ($21.99 a pound for a total of $52.78).

About 2.4 pounds of legs and claws yielded enough salad as an appetizer for 6.

A 10-pound, antibiotic-free turkey from Goffle Road Poultry Farm was $34.85.

We also got 4 duck eggs for $1.25 each. They have bigger yolks and thicker shells than chicken eggs.

See: Where I shopped for Thanksgiving

On Wednesday morning, I fried one sunny side up, breaking the yolk over organic whole wheat fusilli in marinara sauce with anchovies and sardines (photo below). Delicious.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Off to the turkey farm, Costco Wholesale and ShopRite for our Thanksgiving meal

Goffle Road Poultry Farm is so popular chicken sales were suspended and a Wyckoff police officer was posted at the entrance late Monday morning, when we drove there to pick up a naturally raised, antibiotic-free turkey, duck eggs and other items for our Thanksgiving meal. Saturday was the last day for phone orders. At the ShopRite in Paramus on Monday morning, jumbo white sweet potatoes, some longer than a foot, were $1.50 a pound, below.



For our Thanksgiving meal, we bought a fresh-killed, 10-pound turkey raised without antibiotics at Goffle Road Poultry Farm in Wyckoff, the only live market in Bergen County. 

We also picked up four turkey drumsticks, turkey necks and four duck eggs, which have bigger yolks than chicken eggs, a guilty pleasure for this fan of sunny side up, because they were $1.25 each. 

At Costco Wholesale on Tuesday, my wife picked up four long, meaty, wild-caught Red King Crab legs for an appetizing cold salad I dress with Dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice, cumin and other seasonings.

The price was $21.99 a pound, identical to November 2016, as I reported in Do You Really Know What You're Eating? 

On Monday morning, before we drove the 9 miles or so to the turkey farm in Wyckoff, I stopped at the ShopRite in Paramus for a 5-pound box of sweet potatoes (on sale for $1.99).

I'm baking four of the sweet potatoes, mashing others with extra-virgin olive oil and seasonings, and reserving the last one for a frittata made with salted codfish, slices of plum tomato and slices of boiled sweet potato.

I also picked up two 1-liter bottles of Sparkling Pomegranate-Apple Juice from Spain (on sale for $1.88 each).

That was all the shopping we were going to do, but this morning my wife decided she wanted to serve ham in addition to turkey.

So this afternoon, she plans to brave the crowds at Whole Foods Market in Paramus for a naturally raised ham, and I'm stopping at H Mart in Englewood for a 15-pound bag of white rice.

The scene inside the small store at Goffle Road Poultry Farm late Monday morning, above and below. Even though we placed a walk-in order for a fresh-killed whole turkey and parts, we were out of there in about 20 minutes.

 The menu

Everyone in my family and our Thanksgiving guests are meat-and-poultry eaters, but my passion is seafood, so this is what our menu looks like now:

  • Wild Red King Crab Salad

  • Codfish and Sweet Potato Frittata

  • Whole Roasted Turkey in an Oven Bag

  • Ham

  • Sauteed Fresh Spinach, Sweet Potatoes

  • Organic Spring Mix Salad

  • Fruit Salad

  • Prosecco, Sparkling Cider, Juice and Seltzer

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Menendez is guilty and Christie is history; Trump sets record for lies in his first year

In these photos from Getty Images, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, left, and his friend, Dr. Salomon Melgen, were tried in federal court in Newark, but the judge declared a mistrial after jurors said they were hopelessly deadlocked on the 18 counts against them.



The most famous case of jury nullification likely was the 1995 acquittal of O.J. Simpson despite all of the evidence against him in the brutal double murders of his estranged wife and her friend.

And on Thursday in Newark, 10 out of 12 members of  a federal jury reportedly were determined to vote "not guilty" on the corruption charges against Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., before the judge declared a mistrial.

I feel Menendez is guilty of having an unspoken corrupt arrangement with his friend and co-defendant, Dr. Salomon Melgen, to trade gifts and political contributions for official favors.

That's why the senator tried to pressure Obama administration officials to drop charges against the eye doctor in an $8.9 million Medicare billing dispute.

Pay to play

If you live in New Jersey, you're familiar with "pay to play," especially as it is practiced in small towns and cities that fill jobs or award contracts to engineers, attorneys, consultants and others who contribute to council and school board candidates.

The arrangement between Menendez and Melgen was on a grander scale -- the eye doctor gave nearly $700,000 to entities that could help the senator get re-elected in 2012, as well as free flights on his private jet and a $4,934 stay at a Paris hotel.

During the Newark trial, most of the news outlets I followed, including The Record of Woodland Park, rarely mentioned that in April, Melgen was convicted in federal court in West Palm Beach, Fla., on 67 counts of defrauding Medicare out of as much as $105 million from 2008 to 2013.

The case was labeled one of the largest Medicare rip-offs ever, but Melgen's sentencing was postponed until December.

On his side

The Record has been on Menendez's side since he was indicted in April 2015 on bribery, fraud, making false statements and other charges.

And Friday's paper devoted nearly three full pages to the mistrial, including a so-called analysis on Page 1, a favorable editorial, and a column by Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin, who compared the jury deliberations to the Henry Fonda movie "Twelve Angry Men."

"...No one should count Bob Menendez out," the editorial concluded. "He's a fighter."

As if Friday's coverage wasn't enough, Editor Richard Green put a really long Mike Kelly column recapping the Menendez trial on Page 1 today.

Tackle it, and if you haven't been able to sleep lately, the column will knock you out immediately.

Although he was never formally charged, the court of public opinion convicted Governor Christie of masterminding lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September 2013 to retaliate against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for refusing to endorse Christie's re-election bid. The ensuing Bridgegate scandal derailed his White House campaign.

Christie 3-parter

I wasn't able to get through "The Christie Legacy," a tedious, 3-part retrospective of Governor Christie's two terms by Record political Columnist Charles Stile, once the governor's chief booster.

Shit. I barely read the headlines.

Stile wrote column after column polishing the GOP bully's image as a compromiser, and tried to be the first Trenton reporter to signal Christie's run for president (maybe the veteran reporter was hoping to become White House press secretary).

The sub-headline on the first part, which ran last Wednesday, said:


The final part on Friday listed his "successes and failures," but I didn't see a word about how Christie single-handedly destroyed mass transit, and cut NJ Transit's state subsidy by $300 million a year or 90%.

And did Stile spend any time on Christie's nearly 600 vetoes or threats of vetoes, which he used to control the Democratic majority in the state Legislature?

He put the kibosh on everything from a millionaire's tax surcharge to the $15-an-hour minimum wage.

The Record has made too little of how Christie's divisive, mean-spirited rule was a foreshadowing of what the nation is experiencing under President Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress.

"Worst governor in New Jersey history" would have been an appropriate headline for Stile's three-parter.

HuffingtonPost.com reports many people are hilariously reimagining President Trump's awkwardly using two hands to drink from a water bottle, including this one of him kissing a framed photo of daughter Ivanka.

Fact Checker

Last week, The Washington Post's Fact Checker reported "our updated tally of President Trump's false/misleading claims [read 'lies']: 1,628 claims in 298 days."

"In the last 35 days, Trump has averaged an astonishing nine claims a day," said the newspaper, which has awarded numerous Pinocchios to the Liar-In-Chief.

"There are now at least 50 claims that he has repeated three or more times. The president's claim that 'Obamacare is failing' continues to top the list ... followed by his habit of taking credit for business decisions he didn't make. 
"Two claims about taxes are on the rise: that the tax plan will be the biggest tax cut in U.S. history and that the United States is one of the highest-taxed nations (both false).
"Ten months in, the president's tally stands at 1,628 false or misleading claims through Nov. 13. That's an average of 5.5 claims a day and puts him on track to reach 1,999 claims by the end of his first year in office, though he obviously would easily exceed 2,000, if maintained the pace of the past month."

I'm still waiting for a reporter from The Washington Post or any other news outlet to get up at a news conference and tell Trump:

"Mr. President, please stop lying to the American people."

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Food shopping: Consumer Reports to hold public forum on following sustainable diet

One way to follow a sustainable diet is to buy chemical-free organic food when you can, such as these Organic Opal Apples that were on sale at the Whole Foods Market in Bergen Town Center, Paramus, above. Today, at the Whole Foods in the Closter Plaza shopping center in Closter, I bought a 1-pound box of Organic Whole Wheat Shells imported from Italy, below.



What does eating sustainably mean to you?

Consumer Reports says:

"Maintaining a sustainable diet is a way of eating that can be maintained for the long haul. It's a way of eating that supports the individual and the planet."

It's important to maintain a sustainable diet "to protect natural resources -- land, water, animals, and insects -- now and in the future. 

"The way food animals are raised has an impact on both human health and natural resources."

The magazine and website have reported extensively on the use of harmful human antibiotics to raise meat and poultry on industrial farms, and rated supermarkets and fast-food restaurants.

Now, Consumer Reports is seeking to reach existing and new audiences through such community workshops as this one on following a sustainable diet.

The free workshop will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 28, at the Johnson Public Library, 274 Main St. in Hackensack, from 6:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Street parking is free after 6 p.m. Once inside, ask for directions to the conference room on the lower level of the library.

Victor E. Sasson will conduct the workshop. 

The Hackensack resident is editor of two blogs that discuss food shopping, restaurants and harmful antibiotics in meat and poultry, The Sasson Report and Do You Really Know What You're Eating?

If you would like to attend, please email Alan Smith, a community engagement specialist at Consumer Reports (alan.smith@consumer.org) or call him at 1-914-378-2000, Ext. 2662.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Costco is delivering groceries to homes; ShopRite: We're cheaper than Wegmans

Fresh farmed and wild-caught fish fillets in refrigerated cases at Costco Wholesale, 2 Teterboro Landing in Teterboro.



Costco Wholesale is the latest retailer to deliver groceries and fresh food to homes.

Now, when you click "Grocery" on the Costco.com website, you can choose same-day delivery of all groceries, including fresh, "in most metropolitan areas."

When I put in my zipcode in northern New Jersey, I was told the service is not yet available, but that I would be informed by email when it is.

Costco members also can arrange for 2-day delivery nationwide of non-perishable food and sundries, and there is no delivery fee for orders of $75 or more.

From warehouse to you

About 2,000 Costco products, including fresh food, are eligible for delivery by Instacart, which runs the same-day website and arranges for your order to be brought to your home, the warehouse giant said of the new CostcoGrocery program.

Orders can be delivered in as little as 2 hours, and a signature is required for delivery.

Executive members receive their 2% cash reward on "the warehouse merchandise sell price, but not on the 15% to 17% markup or the 10% service fee," Costco said.

Members also receive their 2% cash reward on the order total charged to the Costco Anywhere Visa Card.

Warehouse still cheapest

Still, items purchased in the warehouse "will provide you with the lowest possible price," Costco said.

"Members will enjoy the same superior quality products found in our warehouse. After we receive your order, items are carefully selected at your local Costco warehouse and delivered by Instacart," the company said.

Costco said non-members may also purchase on Instacart.com "at a higher price than members purchasing on Costco Same-Day." 

Other grocery delivery services are offered by ShopRite supermarkets, Amazon, Whole Foods Markets, Peapod and FreshDirect.

Although Costco is just now joining them, the warehouse giant offers prices on groceries and fresh food that usually undercut competitors.

The Costco Wholesale in Teterboro is offering instant savings on two 40-ounce jars of Victoria White Linen Marinara Sauce through next Wednesday ($5.79 after $3 off). 
Other instant savings at Costco include 580 Ziploc Sandwich Bags for $8.59, above; a dozen 10-ounce bottles of Naked Juice-brand Fruit Smoothies for $10.59; and two 34.5-ounce pouches of Quaker Simply Granola with Oats, Honey, Raisins and Almonds for $5.39 after $2.60 off, photos below.

ShopRite v. Wegmans

ShopRite, a retailers' cooperative of supermarkets in the Northeast, has long claimed to be the low-price leader among traditional food stores.

Now, ShopRite stores in northern New Jersey have begun running full-page ads, comparing prices on 32 items at ShopRite and Wegmans, which opened a supermarket in Montvale in late September.

"Your ShopRite total: $106.35," the ad says of the purchases made at the two stores on Nov. 15. "Your Wegmans total: $158.76. ShopRite saves you $52.41 [or] 33%."

Items include Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Scott Bath Tissue, Golden Pineapples, Atlantic Salmon Fillet, Sabra Hummus and Organic Yams. 

The ad I saw ran in The Record of Woodland Park, my local daily newspaper.

The ShopRite ad misspelled Wegmans as "Wegman's."

On Tuesday, I picked up 1-pound boxes of Ronzoni 100% Whole Wheat Spaghetti and 100% Whole Wheat Rotini on sale for 88 cents each (normally $1.69 each) at the ShopRite on Forest Avenue and Route 4 in Paramus. The store also sells 1-pound packages of Luigi Vitelli-brand Organic Whole Wheat Pasta in a variety of shapes for $1.50 each.
ShopRite's own 100% Whole Wheat Spaghetti in a 16-ounce box was $1.29.
A 5-pound box of Sweet Potatoes was on sale for $2.49. The price will be cut to $1.99 on Sunday, according to a newspaper flier I received today.
I baked some of the sweet potatoes, and boiled the rest with whole garlic cloves, then drained and mashed them with extra-virgin olive oil and a variety of seasonings, including red-pepper flakes, curry powder, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, dried mint and black pepper. Both sweet potatoes and whole wheat pasta are good bread substitutes.
Small pomegranates were on sale at the Paramus ShopRite for $2.50 each, but my wife picked up a half-dozen larger pomegranates, weighing a total of 8 pounds, at the Teterboro Costco for the same price.
A liter bottle of ShopRite's Sparkling Cider from Spain was on sale for $1.88.
I was surprised to see Sparkling Apple Cider with 100% juice, right, has more sugar in each 8-ounce serving than Sparkling Peach with only 25% juice and added sugar.